A Taliban suicide assault team stormed a police headquarters in the central Afghan province of Logar and killed 20 policemen earlier today. The jihadist group claimed credit for the attack.
The assault on the police headquarters began at lunchtime as one of the suicide bombers “detonated his explosives at the entrance gate,” creating a breach for three other fighters to enter the compound, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.
Two of the Taliban fighters attacked the command center while the third detonated his vest at the dining facility. Most of the casualties are said to have taken place at the dining facility. In addition to the 20 policemen killed, another 20 are said to have been wounded.
The Afghan Taliban claimed credit for the attack in an Arabic-language statement that was released on its website, Voice of Jihad, by Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman. The four Taliban fighters were identified as Khalil Rahman from Laghman province, Aziz Rahman from Baghlan, and Mohammed Shafiq and Samiullah from Kabul. The fighters were armed with “light and heavy weapons” as well as “explosive belts” and “hand grenades,” according to Muhajid.
Muhajid said the attack was part of its “Khaibar” (or Khyber) operation, a reference to the Taliban’s offensive that was announced in May 2014. The Taliban vowed to “target all high ranking government officials, cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, security officials, occupation backing officers in the Interior and Foreign Ministries, attorneys and judges that prosecute Mujahideen as well as agents in the National Directorate [Afghan intelligence] that pursue and torture Mujahideen.”
The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using one or more suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic frequently used by the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda and its branches, allied groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and by the rival Islamic State. Suicide assaults are commonly executed by jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.
Today’s attack in Logar was preceded by a clash yesterday in Maiwand district in the southern province of Kandahar that resulted in the deaths of six more policemen and an unknown number of Taliban fighters.
Afghan police officers, who are often poorly trained and armed, have been on the front lines against the rising Taliban insurgency as US and European forces ended their combat mission.
The Taliban have hit the police particularly hard as the group stepped up its attacks against Afghan security forces in 2014. Of the estimated 5,000 Afghan security personnel killed in 2014, at least 3,200 were policemen, Karl Ake Roghe, the head of the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan told the Associated Press at the end of 2014.
The high number of casualties for Afghan security personnel “are not sustainable in the long term,” Lieutenant General Joe Anderson, the former deputy commander for the now-disbanded International Security Assistance Force told reporters at a press briefing in early November 2014.
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